Jury trial ordered in Petito v. Laundries lawsuit next year, case still at risk of being thrown out

You can find the latest information on the investigation involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie here. Download the WFLA app to receive news alerts and sign up to receive news email alerts.

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — A jury trial has been ordered and scheduled for the lawsuit filed by the parents of Gabby Petito against the parents of Brian Laundrie.

The lawsuit filed by Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt last month claims Laundrie’s parents knew all along that their son had murdered Petito, 22. Chris and Roberta Laundrie’s attorney has already filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, calling it “without merit”.

The jury trial, if it takes place, will not begin anytime soon.

According to court documents obtained by WFLA.com, a jury trial has been set for the week of August 14, 2023 at the South County Courthouse in Venice, Florida. The trial duration window does not begin until next year due to scheduling in the Sarasota County court system.

The jury trial, unless revoked, should be open to the public, which could attract international media attention. This would be the first time the Petito case has come to court and, although it is a civil case rather than a criminal case, it could reveal the much-awaited evidence Petito and Schmidt claim to have for substantiate their charges that the laundries were informed. their son murdered Gabby Petito and sought to help her flee the United States.

Although a date has been set, the case is still at risk of being thrown out after the laundries’ lawyer filed the motion to dismiss on the grounds that their clients exercised their constitutional right to refrain from speaking and ” continued to rely on a lawyer to speak for them.”

Judge Hunter W. Carroll responded to the motion to dismiss the lawsuit by giving attorneys for Petito and Schmidt 20 days to file an amended complaint that he said was necessary due to a “perceived procedural flaw” in the lawsuit. .

“To be clear, the Court in today’s order does not convey defendants’ arguments that this lawsuit should be dismissed with prejudice,” Carroll wrote in his response. “The Court’s intention is to remedy the perceived procedural shortcoming before addressing the merits of the Defendants’ motion.”

Pat Reilly, Petito and Schmidt’s attorney, said he was preparing to file the amended lawsuit to set out “separate causes of action on behalf of the Petito family against the laundries.”

A decision on the dismissal of the lawsuit is expected after Judge Carroll reviews the revisions. Steven Bertolino, the laundries’ attorney in New York, told WFLA.com that his clients would always seek removal regardless of any changes to the amended complaint.

“We are ready for anything,” Bertolino said.

Reilly says he has a “high level of confidence” that the lawsuit will reach a jury trial, if not settled out of court.

“The court will have to decide whether the motion to dismiss has merit, which I don’t believe,” Reilly said.

Petito and Schmidt are suing for intentionally inflicting emotional distress, alleging Laundries were told by their son of Petito’s murder “on or about” August 28 and, rather than telling them about Gabby’s death, told them about Gabby’s death. chose to remain silent. The lawsuit accuses the Laundrie family of acting “maliciously or with great indifference to the rights of” Petito’s family. Petito and Schmidt are seeking damages of at least $100,000, stating that they suffered pain and mental anguish due to the Laundries’ “stubbornness and viciousness”.

The Laundries, through their legal team, have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The big question before a possible jury trial is what evidence Petito and Schmidt claim to have to back up the claims made in the trial.

“They’ll have to wait and see,” Reilly said when asked about the evidence. “If we hadn’t believed it was true, we wouldn’t have put them in the complaint.”

About Jessica J. Bass

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